There are more and more signs that tiktok is ready to turn its main battlefield to Europe after the Indian and American markets have been blocked.
Unlike US President Trumps siege, European politics are open to tiktok: French President Marcon released his first tiktok video in early July, congratulating French students who had just finished the exam.
There is no man-made barrier to tiktok in European market, and there is no equivalent local technology giant to compete with it. But moving to the region with the most stringent digital regulation in the world, tiktok ushers in new opportunities in Europe, but also faces old challenges.
All the interesting students in the class are using tiktok. Lisa, a 16-year-old Dutch girl, told interface news. She attended a high school in Utrecht, the central Dutch city, and has been away from school since the outbreak, spending at least two hours a day in tiktok. She doesnt use Facebook because thats what parents use and tiktok is the place for young people.. On tiktok, she follows famous fashion bloggers, occasionally takes a dance video of herself, and see what the students are doing..
In early August, when news of plans to locate its global headquarters in London came, tiktok was facing its biggest crisis since its inception. India and the U.S. market has encountered obstacles, while the European market appears relatively calm. In fact, tiktok has been constantly moving in the European market in the past two years, and there are early signs of expansion.
Tiktoks European tour set sail in London. In August 2018, tiktoks UK team was officially established. With this as their next office building in the heart of Europe, they began their march into the European market. Zhang Yiming will consider setting up headquarters for tiktok overseas from the end of 2019. The candidate cities include London, Singapore and Dublin. People close to byte beat have already told the media that the headquarters will probably be set in London.
The advantages are beginning to show
Europe doesnt have its own social media giants. The big platforms are basically from China and the United States. Noah Barkin, chief editor of rhodium group, an economic research firm, told interface news. This gives tiktok an advantage: unlike the United States, in Europe, it has little competitive pressure from local enterprises, and government decision makers are almost free from lobbying pressure from local enterprises.
The relatively neutral and open attitude of European politics is another bonus. At present, none of the major European countries has chosen to follow the hawkish stance of the United States. Even under the pressure of the United States, few European politicians have publicly expressed their intention to ban tiktok. Government officials in both Britain and France have said there are no plans to ban tiktok, according to a report by Bloomberg. A German government official said that Germany has not found any sign that tiktok brought security risks.
There are also many active European politicians who see tiktok as an important channel to communicate with young voters. In addition to makron, Polish President Andrzej Duda, London mayor Sadiq Khan and British health minister Matt Hancock have also been stationed in tiktok.
During the outbreak of the new crown epidemic in Europe, tiktok also had a strong sense of presence. In April, tiktok donated 5 million pounds to the Royal College of nursing foundation to support medical staff working on the front line of the new crown. Lonely elderly people have launched tiktok chanllenge in nursing homes that have to be temporarily closed because of a cluster of infections, the Guardian reported. A video of a 93 year old and an 82 year old dancing together has received a lot of attention and forwarding on tiktok.
Today, Europe has become tiktoks most important market outside India and the United States.
According to market research firm sensor tower, in 2019, tiktok ranked fourth on the European list of non Game App downloads, with 91 million downloads in Europe; while the UK is the third largest source of tiktoks revenue in the world, accounting for 2% of its total revenue. As of June this year, tiktok had 5.4 million, 4.4 million and 5.5 million monthly active users in the UK, France and Germany, and 3.0 million and 3.5 million monthly active users in Italy and Spain, according to a survey report released by takesomerisk, a consulting firm.
But tiktok has not been easy in Europe.
As political news network politico pointed out in a report, tiktoks business model, which distributes targeted advertisements based on videos and data released by minor users, makes it particularly vulnerable to trouble in Europe, the most tightly protected place in the world.
In recent years, the chief editor of European Union News Co., Ltd. has little concern about the number of Internet service platforms provided by Chinas Internet giant The main concerns. .
In February 2019, when tiktok received a US $5.79 million fine from the Federal Trade Commission of the United States, the UK had already started an investigation into tiktok. Elizabeth Denham, the UK information commissioner, said tiktok may have violated the gdpr rule: technology companies must have different rules and protections for children. But tiktok is an open platform that allows adult users to communicate freely with children. According to a report by Barnardo, a British charity, some criminals are harassing users as young as eight. In April, tiktoks UK team had to ban sending and receiving direct messages from children under 16.
Tiktok is beginning to face more and more data charges in Europe. European Parliament member Moritz Korner has repeatedly raised concerns about tiktoks data collection methods and security privacy risks in Europe. In June, the European data protection board (edpb) announced that a working group would be set up to assess tiktoks activities in the EU. The working group will coordinate possible actions for more official and comprehensive regulation of tiktoks data processing and all operations in the EU.
In the face of pressure, tiktok has set up a lobbying team for European regulators.
In February last year, tiktok recruited Theo Bertram, a senior public relations man and adviser to former British prime ministers Tony Blair and brown, to serve as tiktoks director of public policy in Europe. Interface news was found on the website of transparency register, the EU lobbying regulator. Since April 28, 2020, an organization named tiktok UK Information Technology Co., Ltd. has been registered.
According to EU regulations, organizations that wish to lobby EU institutions must register with regulators and then meet with relevant members of Parliament as required. According to the registration information, tiktoks main business concerns in the EU are: the European Digital Services Act (DSA), the EU e-commerce directive, the EU single digital market Copyright Directive, the EU guidelines for the disposal of false messages, the EU audio-visual media service directive, data strategy, artificial intelligence, etc.
The website also records tiktoks only meeting with EU officials so far: on June 9, 2020, Thierry Breton, the EUs internal market commissioner, held a video conference with Kevin Mayer, tiktoks new CEO and former Disney executive, to discuss matters related to the EUs Digital Services Act and fake information. Later, tieri Brayton tweeted that tiktok was a entertainment platform for millions of people and could play a role in fighting false information, especially about the new outbreak.
Tiktok recognizes that Brussels (the European Union after it) is the source of regulatory regulations. They also want to be part of the game. Siada El ramly, a government relations expert who helped Google, Facebook and twitter lobbied in the EU, told politico.
During the period from January to March 2020, he was a public relations consultant of tiswicz group, which was registered in the public relations department of the British finance and economics group. In France, tiktok entered into a partnership in May 2020 with the French Ministry of health and solidarity, which governs children and family affairs. Minister Adrian taquet tweeted that cooperation with tiktok would help combat violence against children and raise awareness of childrens self-protection. In Ireland, tiktok has set up a transparent center to publish algorithms to the outside world, showing how tiktok can audit platform content and protect privacy data.
To allay European concerns about data, tiktok took a step further than Lobbying: to set up a data center in Ireland.
Earlier, when discussing the possibility of London as a global headquarters, a person close to byte skipping senior management once told caixin.com that the data supervision of Internet enterprises in Europe is the most stringent. If tiktok global headquarters can meet the regulatory requirements in European cities, it can directly prove that its data management is sufficiently standardized, so as to resolve the security review risk in the United States.
Zhang zhewei, director of China of the Irish investment and development agency, told the interface news that there was a one stop shop mechanism in gdpr. Enterprises that conduct multinational data processing in the EU need only be supervised by the regulatory authorities of one of the EU countries. Multinational technology enterprises will take the attitude of regulatory authorities in different countries into account when locating data centers. Irelands regulatory authorities are relatively easy to deal with.
Some multinational companies want to see the regulatory authorities before investing, while some countries are reluctant to meet. However, Ireland is relatively open and takes a cooperative and service attitude towards enterprises.. Zhang zhewei said that due to the large number of multinational technology enterprises gathered in Dublin, the Irish Data Protection Commission has been preparing for gdpr compliance very early. In the past few years, its scale has been expanding and funding has been increasing. Many data compliance firms have moved from the UK to London after brexit, and the talent pool in the private sector can also keep pace.
However, for content creators on tiktok, too much regulation seems to kill creativity. Fabian ouwehand, a Dutch entrepreneur, runs a MCN organization that specializes in mining Internet celebrities from tiktok. He told interface news that when he met byte hop in Beijing last year, he complained that the European market was not active enough because tiktoks main focus in Europe was on data protection, privacy and other issues, which led to insufficient innovation.
In June, tiktok announced that it would launch a & pound; 54 million fund to support European creators to produce content on its platform. This is the first time they have provided funding to EU creators in the hope of increasing the income of creators and even converting to full-time jobs. Before that, creators could only profit from live broadcasting or brand cooperation. To qualify for the fund, the creator must be at least 18 years old, have a certain number of followers, and publish original content that follows the tiktok rules.
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